Kerry Hulse: Legacy Member of Grassroots Crane Safety Certification Program Looks Back
Employee Spotlight: Kerry Hulse
Kerry Hulse, vice president of Deep South Crane & Rigging, has dedicated much of his career to improving safety across the crane and rigging industry. In fact, he is one of the founders and guiding leaders of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), an organization that has certified over 100,000 crane operators.
Kerry's influence on crane industry safety and certification began in 1989. Born into the business his father was a crane and rigging owner in the 1960s, Kerry knew first-hand the challenges associated with transporting and operating increasingly complex heavy lift machinery.
In 1989, he became a member of the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association(SC&RA) Governing Committee. He recalls, "A proposal came through the committee to develop a certification program in response to concerns about the rise in crane industry accidents. At the time, there were no national requirements for crane operator certification. The OSHA representatives that participated in SC&RA panel discussions on this subject agreed that we needed to take charge of the effort since we were the experts."
Those initial conversations led to the establishment of the SC&RA Certification Task Force with Kerry as the chairman. The goal of the Task Force under his leadership was to establish the required baseline skills for a crane operator. At the same time, the SC&RA Board of Directors passed a motion to establish a certification and develop a written test.
Looking back, Kerry is most proud of the industry cooperation and commitment in those early days. He adds, "In a very short time, we had over 50 volunteers from the industry including union and non-union representatives, manufacturers, contractors and plant owners all at the same table in the name of safety."
Following almost a decade-long commitment by industry volunteers, the Task Forces groundwork made way for the establishment of the NCCCO in January 1995 as an independent, non-profit personnel certification organization dedicated to improve the safety of lifting operations.
NCCCO introduced the first certification testing in 1996. The first mobile crane operator certification was nationally accredited in 1998 and formally recognized by OSHA the following year. Since those early days, NCCCO has developed a number of certifications including tower crane operator, overhead crane operator, boom truck operator, digger derrick operator, service truck crane operator, articulating crane operator, crane inspector, lift director, signal person and rigger certifications.
Kerry served as chairman of the NCCCO Commissioners group for 15 years after its inception until his election to the NCCCO Board in 2012. Today, Kerry is vice president of the NCCCO Board of Directors while simultaneously continuing his leadership activities with Deep South, continuing his lifelong commitment to safety.
Kerry says, "I've been in this industry all my life, and what's really impressive to me is that all of the certifications have come about at the request of the industry, and they've been developed in large part by volunteers. The volunteer dedication speaks volumes about our industry's commitment to safety, which starts at the top. We couldn't have done any of this without the support of the industry's top executives, like Deep South's Camile Landry, who have fully supported and encouraged involvement as a critical aspect of a career in the crane industry."
OSHA has officially recognized NCCCO programs as meeting its requirements for crane operator qualification and will accept NCCCO Certification of Crane Operators (CCO) as proof of training.
"Now looking ahead, I'm proud to see that certification as become a de-facto standard. Even though most state agencies don't require it, Kerry concludes, "If you don't have certification, then you are probably not going to operate a crane."
Of note, OSHA has written a rule that dictates the requirement for crane operator certification across the country starting in 2017.
Mitch Landry, president of Deep South, said, "The improved safety of crane operations over the last 20 years is due in large part to the leadership of individuals like Kerry. Thank you, Kerry for your dedication to the safety of our industry your work is visible in every instance where a crane operator and the jobsite crew goes home safely at the end of the work day."
Caustic & Prefrac Tower Lift Project
Deep South Crane and Rigging was recently contracted by a southeast petrochemical plant as part of a major pre-turnaround project. In order to de-bottleneck ethylene production, Deep South erected a caustic tower and a prefrac tower. With dozens of different contractors and over 700 workers, a confined and congested work area posed the greatest challenge.
Safety Source: Parking Lot Safety
It’s important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. In even the most familiar or seemingly harmless area, the potential for danger and accidents can be anywhere. Parking lots, whether at your office, your favorite store, or outside of a stadium all offer the possibility of accidents. However with a few helpful tips and best practices, making your way to and from your car can be a safe and pleasant.